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This Medication Not Likely to Help Your Insomnia, Study Finds

While prescription sleep medications can help women who experience acute insomnia, it won’t help the chronic version. 
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

According to science, one out of every four Americans develop insomnia every year. Fortunately, 75 percent of them recover, 21 percent experience poor sleeping with bouts of acute insomnia, while the remaining six percent develop chronic insomnia, meaning they struggle to sleep for at least three nights a week for more than three months. Those who struggle with sleep disorders may attempt to treat the condition in a variety of ways, ranging from calming bedtime rituals and hot tea before bed to taking natural or prescription sleeping aids. Now, a new study has determined that one of the most popular treatment methods is ineffective for those dealing with chronic insomnia. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this special report: I'm a Doctor and Warn You Never Take This Supplement.

Sleep Medications Don't Help Chronic Insomnia, Study Finds

According to research published Tuesday in BMJ Open, while prescription sleep medications can help women who experience acute insomnia, it won't help the chronic version. 

"Whether caused by stress, illness, medications, or other factors, poor sleep is very common," senior author Michael Perlis, Ph.D., an associate professor of Psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program, explained in a press release. "These findings reveal new insights about the paths that acute insomnia takes and can inform interventions that target poor sleep and help people recover sustained sufficient sleep."

Researchers pored through two years of data from almost 700 middle-age women, focusing on their sleep habits. They determined that Ambien, Lunesta and other anti-anxiety meds—all of which can be helpful in the short-term (up to six months)— aren't any more effective to help women sleep than taking nothing at all. 

"Sleep disturbances are common and increasing in prevalence. The use of sleep medications has grown, and they are often used over a long period, despite the relative lack of evidence from [randomised controlled trials]," the study authors concluded.

They added that while the drugs may work well in some people with sleep disturbances over several years, the findings of this study should "give pause for thought to prescribing clinicians and patients thinking about taking prescription meds for sleep disturbances in middle age."

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The Right Amount of Sleep Per Night

Adults need 7 or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Short sleep duration is defined as less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. So practice good sleep hygiene, and to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.

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